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Common Reading 2020: Andrew Benett

"A Culture of Curiosity Is the Key to Building a Company That Learns to Improve"

Unlike creativity -- at least as practiced in business -- curiosity isn’t about solving problems. It’s about exploration and expansion.

—Andrew Benett

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Answer to the Picture Riddle Challenge: Key!

Author: Andrew Benett

Andrew Benett 

Andrew Benett is the executive chairman and CEO of Harte Hanks, a global marketing services firm. He is the author of book The Talent Mandate. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. 

Introduction

Growing up, I was the kid that asked questions. “Why is the sky blue? Why do we drive on the right side of the road? Why can’t I just cut my own hair?” There is no doubt that my family rolled their eyes to more than a few of my questions, but I never stopped asking them. Eventually, my question of “Why?” turned into a question of “What if?”. 

This is what entrepreneurs do every day when starting a business. Imagine if no one had dared to ask “What if we could visit one website and type in a question that will search all websites and give us a list of results?” or “What if we built a company that allowed people to shop from their home and have items delivered to them in a few days?” Without asking these questions, we might not have Google or Amazon.  

In the article “A Culture of Curiosity Is the Key to Building a Company That Learns to Improve” Andrew Benett writes, “Curiosity can start and lead anywhere.” Benett gives advice for creating a culture of curiosity in the workplace. As you read the article, think of how you can apply the advice to your own life. At Susquehanna, you will face numerous opportunities to embrace your curiosity, both in the classroom and across campus. When was the last time you asked “Why?” and what would happen if you asked “What if?”. 

—Theresa Finley

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. What crossovers between the classroom and the boardroom exist that make curiosity a through line?

2. What companies can you think of that have succeeded more because of a curious attitude?

3. How are creativity and curiosity linked so that they encourage each other?

4. How is curiosity in the business world related to diverse hiring practices?

Additional Resources

Harvard Business Review: Why Curiosity Matters

A Culture of Curiosity Is the Key to Building a Company That Learns to Improve

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. There's a lot of talk about creating cultures of creativity-especially within the creative industry -- and I agree wholeheartedly that such cultures are vital. What I think too many people overlook; however, is creativity's important driver: curiosity.

"In a survey I conducted of more than 3,000 employees from a wide range of firms and industries, only about 24% reported feeling curious in their jobs on a regular basis, and about 70% said they face barriers to asking more questions at work."

The Need for Empathy, Curiosity in a Complex Business World

Business leaders give current and prospective business students advice on the importance of asking questions, being open to the continuation of learning, and...

The Need for Empathy, Curiosity in a Complex Business World | AACSB Explores

The Need for Empathy, Curiosity in a Complex Business World Business leaders give current and prospective business students advice on the importance of asking questions, being open to the continuation of learning, and surrounding themselves with diverse communities to expand learning opportunities.

Classroom Activities

1. As a timed writing, list as many ways as possible to specifically incorporate curiosity into an idea you have for a business or for a business that already exists.

2. As a research project, look into one specific company's policies. Rate and critique their use of curiosity in such things as employee relations, external business practices, and connectedness to their market.

Introduction: Theresa Finley

Theresa Finley – Susquehanna University 

Dr. Theresa Finley is an Assistant Professor of Economics in the Sigmund Weis Business School at Susquehanna University. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University, her MS from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her B.B.A. from James Madison University. She has been published in the Journal of Law and Economics and her research interests include economic history, institutional economics, and the economics of religion.